In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, yoga is outlined as an experiential practice. His first sutra of “Atha yoga anushasanam,” or “Now, the teachings of yoga,” is a reminder that all yoga teachings bring us into the present moment. It is through being present and having an experience of the now that the Self can be identified and understood.
For many students, the experience of yoga is a spiritual journey. It is considered more important to train the mind to be focused, balanced and present than it is to gain physical mastery of the poses. In this way, yoga experience can be thought of as progression on the spiritual path to becoming your highest Self and gaining freedom.
It is said that there are three crucial factors to gaining experience in yoga:
- Committing to the practice for a long time, even a lifetime
- Practicing regularly, both on and off the yoga mat
- Having sincere intentions in the practice
This allows for an experience of yoga and the benefits of yoga which goes far deeper than simply improved physical health, strength and wellness. Yoga experience in this way is said to help people become more peaceful, content and joyful, as they travel the path to spiritual liberation.